The Ulster Farmers’ Union has used International Farm Safety Week to warn that, despite some improvements, thanks to the Farm Safety Partnership, this remains an issue for every farming family.
UFU president, Ivor Ferguson, said the message to ‘Stop and Think safe’ remained sound advice. He admitted it was easy to forget this when the pressure was on, but said it had to be as central to farm activities as putting the key in to start the tractor.
He added: “Farmers work long hours on a self-employed basis, with many pieces of dangerous machinery and unpredictable animals. They are often under pressure from the weather or time – but that cannot be a reason to take a risk by cutting corners. It is vital that every farmer and farming family take the necessary steps to protect themselves and the future of their business.”
The ‘Stop and Think Safe’ campaign was developed by the Farm Safety Partnership, with support from the UFU as a founder member, to tackle high levels of serious accidents and deaths on local farms. ‘SAFE’ reflects the four main causes of fatal accidents – slurry, animals, falls from height and equipment. In 2016-17 six people lost their lives on Northern Ireland farms.
“Any death from a farm accident is heart breaking and impacts on many people within a family and local community. The UFU remains committed to reducing accidents and I urge all farmers to view their safety with the utmost of importance.
“We also welcome the pester power of family members to help reinforce this message. Frustrating as it may be when it’s happening, it could save a business from the horrendous consequences of a death or serious injury.”
Farm Safety Week is an initiative that will be led throughout the UK and Ireland by the Farm Safety Foundation (FSF). Over the course of the week, the FSF team will share a series of case studies, articles and guest blogs on its yellowwellies.org website.
This year, rather than focusing on agriculture’s poor safety record and stories of things going wrong, Farm Safety Week 2018 will focus on the issue of child safety on farms, the importance of physical and mental wellbeing in the industry and demonstrating what ‘good’ actually looks like.
Stephanie Berkeley, from FSF, said: “More than ever, the industry is aware of the issue of farm safety however, this year, rather than focusing on agriculture’s poor safety record and stories of things going wrong, Farm Safety Week 2018 will start talking about when things go right, share good practice and demonstrate what ‘good’ actually looks like.
“Over the past five years we have asked farmers to stop and think. We have delivered successful campaigns such as Mind Your Head and Who Would Fill Your Boots?
“We can continue to make powerful and emotive films and offer advice and guidance but we can’t do one thing. We can’t make farmers change their attitude. Only they can make that change.”